Scott Hoyer can be excused if he’s experiencing an acute case of déjà vu this fall.
The 47-year-old Regina native is back for his second tour of duty with the Kelowna Rockets, serving as the club’s athletic therapist, and as their speed, strength and conditioning coach.
Hoyer worked for the Rockets from 2000 to 2006, before setting out on career path that would include stops with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, Kelowna’s Pursuit of Excellence Academy and the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton.
So when the club’s last athletic therapist, Jeff Thorburn, announced this spring he was moving on, Hoyer seized the opportunity to re-connect with one of junior hockey’s most successful franchises.
While the sights and sounds are familiar in the halls and rooms of Prospera Place, Hoyer said both he and the team have grown and evolved since his last stop with the Rockets seven years ago.
“A lot of the same faces are here, but as an organization, the Rockets are more experienced and the league is more professional,” said Hoyer who went to three Memorial Cups with the Rockets. “I’m more experienced, too, so they’re getting hopefully a newer, better version of me. I’m kind of the old, new-guy who’s gone full circle and come back as a better therapist, a better strength and conditioning coach…it’s exciting to be back.”
Rockets’ head coach Ryan Huska worked with Hoyer for three seasons, before he left to join the Edmonton Oilers in 2006.
Huska said the experience and knowledge Hoyer has acquired along the way will be invaluable to the hockey club.
“(Scott) has brought a different perspective into our dressing room in regards to workouts and how they’re tailored to each individual, it’s a good, new approach,” said Huska. “He comes back to us with a ton of experience from different programs. He has a great handle on conditioning and injury prevention, the really important parts of the job.”
Aside from his technical expertise, Huska said Hoyer also possesses good people skills, another asset in a job that involves constant interaction with as many as 25 young men on a daily basis.
“The players are still feeling him out, but it doesn’t take long before the relationships develop,” Huska said. “Scott will have a conversation with anyone, it’s a good quality to have. The more we can get these guys to open up and communicate, the better we’ll be as a hockey team. Scott is a big part of that.”
From Hoyer’s perspective, getting to know the people he’s working with is one of the most rewarding facets of the job.
“To get to know these guys, where they’re from, their pets names, getting to know their moms and dads at camps is great,” he said. “They’re kids and they get homesick and I have an opportunity to help with their schoolwork on the bus, get them through injuries, you really delve into their personalities. That’s the fun part of the position; they’re kids and you’re helping them to be young men and gentlemen.”
As for his many travels and destinations of the last decade-plus, Hoyer said one place stands out above the rest.
“Honestly all the positions I had and places I went were great, but on the journey I never felt like I felt here,” Hoyer said of the Rockets. “I’m very comfortable here with the coaching staff, the front office, (GM) Bruce (Hamilton) and his family, all of it. It was hard back then to leave but I knew had to venture out and get better as a professional. So here I am…I’m home again.”
Just watch Hoyer at work behind the bench during the Rockets’ home games and you”ll see exactly what he means.
Rocket Shots…Rockets’ forward Rourke Chartier has been listed as a C player in NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary rankings for the 2014 NHL draft. The C rating means Chartier is considered a fourth to sixth-round prospect. The Saskatoon native was the Rockets’ top rookie and scholastic player of the year last season…Former Rockets captain Colton Sissons was assigned this week to the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals by the Nashville Predators…The Rockets (2-0-0) return to action Saturday when they host the Victoria Royals in the first of eight meetings between the teams this season. Face off at Prospera Place is 7 p.m…On Wednesday, Kelowna will travel to Everett to play the Silvertips.